The Truth about Gear for Mt. Kilimanjaro Many people climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro arrive in Tanzania with unnecessary, inadequate or “over” adequate equipment. The problem (and expense) can be easily avoided.
Getting Help from Professionals is Easy Kilimanjaro is an entry level trekking peak, so your gear should be carefully selected for that purpose. At S2, we’re available to provide individual advice on equipment performance and selection based on decades of mountaineering experience around the world. In addition, S2 staff are updated on the latest outdoor technology to keep you informed of the best available equipment on the market. Some of our staff even have professional retail experience in the outdoor industry to assist with specific product design and performance questions.
Gear Trials are Great Whether you’re concerned if your puffy will keep you warm enough on summit day or you need baskets for your trekking poles, S2 can zero in on the right gear for you. You’ll have the opportunity to conduct gear trials with an S2 guide and, importantly, get professional advice to make sure you have the right gear before arriving in Tanzania. Join us for one of our regularly scheduled conditioning treks and a proper pack fitting comes standard with our enthusiasm for your comfort. Are those new boots a little tight in the toe box on a downhill slope? Not sure what a hydration pack is or if you should use a bottle insulator on summit day? Our favorite question – “Milky Way or Snickers?” We know gear (and snacks!) for Kilimanjaro, and we’ll share our experience to make sure your trip is comfortable and enjoyable.
Personal Gear List Our personal gear list is premised on weight and performance. Members are required to carry a small pack with necessary personal items each day (i.e. water, snacks, jacket, etc.) while professional S2 porters carry all remaining personal gear and group equipment. Most member day packs range from 15-20lbs in weight. Although experience informs us our list is comprehensive, we appreciate that many members require additional items and equipment for personal comfort. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation on individual gear.
Light Hiking Boots Your “wheels” are your most important gear. Leather or leather/gore-tex combination with a sturdy mid-sole (Vibram sole is best). Boots should be warm and fit well over light and heavy sock combinations. Fit is more important than brand or cost. Take the time to select a pair that fits your foot and break them in well before departure (Solo, Merrill, Scarpa and La Sportiva all have great boots).
Guide Advice – We recommend you have 75-100 miles of experience in your boots before departure to ensure a proper fit. As part of this mileage, you should also have no less than two trekking days that each covers a distance of 8 miles or more.
Gaiters Short, simple gaiters that fit comfortably over your boots are best. Gaiters provide warmth and seal the top of the boot from mud and moisture.
Sport Sandals These are excellent during evenings when worn over wool socks (Teva, Chaco or similar brands are fine).
Lightweight Liner Socks 2 pairs of synthetic/wool blend (Bridgedale, Patagonia, Wigwam, Fox River).
Heavy Socks 3 pairs synthetic/wool blend (Smartwool, Bridgedale, Wigwam, Fox River).
Small Plastic Bags 4 small plastic bags that easily wrap around your feet. These bags act as liners and fit over your socks as a barrier during especially wet conditions.
Guide Advice – You don’t need to spend any money on these. Plastic shopping bags work great!
Guide Advice – Clothing items described here are recommended to provide comfort in a range of both warm and cold conditions. As we gain altitude, we’ll add layers of clothing. This method is commonly referred to as a “layering system.”
Lightweight Hiking Pants 1 pair of stretch-woven pants designed for easy movement and layering.
Lightweight Long Underwear Bottom Dark colors are preferable because they don’t show dirt (Patagonia-Capilene, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op).
Briefs 3 pairs of synthetic or cotton. Running shorts also work well for underwear.
Lightweight Long Underwear Top 1 pair can be used both for sleeping and additional insulation at higher altitude (Patagonia-Capilene, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op).
Short-Sleeved Shirts 2 synthetic shirts are adequate. Most nylon running shirts or athletic shirts work well. Shirt material should have vapor wicking capabilities (North Face, Patagonia-Capilene).
Lightweight Long Sleeve Shirt 2 synthetic shirts are adequate. Most nylon running shirts or athletic shirts are fine.
Guide Advice – You can easily save money on clothing items by shopping for items made with the same material. Curiously, traditional mountaineering brands are quite expensive in comparison to brands marketed to runners. Oftentimes, the product is even higher quality.
Jacket – Synthetic or Fleece Synthetic jackets or pullovers are a great alternative to fleece because they’re lighter and compressible. Primaloft type fill or Polartec 100 or 200 fleece is recommended (North Face, Mountain Hardware, Patagonia).
Waterproof/Breathable Jacket & Pants This jacket is your primary weather barrier. We recommend jackets with hoods that provide insulation, as well as resistance to wind and rain. Pants should be of similar quality with full-length side zips for easy entry and exit with boots on (Arc’Teryx, Marmot, Mountain Equipment Co-op).
Jacket – Down Puffy (optional) Although these jackets generally have low utility until we get to altitude, trekkers with lower tolerance to cold conditions may benefit from this type of jacket. Puffies are also great during the evening when it’s chilly.
Wet Weather Poncho We recommend ponchos with hoods that drape over the entire body while wearing a daypack.
Head & Hand Gear
Liner Gloves Lightweight and synthetic is best (Patagonia Capilene).
Windstopper Fleece Gloves Make sure these gloves fit comfortable over your liner gloves (Any brand of wind resistant fleece).
Sun Hat Any lightweight hat with a good brim or visor.
Wool or Fleece Hat Any brand of warm hat that can cover the ears.
Sunglasses 1 pair of high quality 100%UV and 100%IR with a minimum of 80% or more light reduction. Size and shape of lens should offer maximum protection from bright light at altitude.
Trekking Gear and Accessories
Adjustable Trekking Poles Although not absolutely necessary, we highly recommend trekking poles to improve balance and reduct musculoskeletal impact, especially on the downhill trek.
Guide Advice – Trekking poles should be telescoping for portability and travel. Make sure you also have baskets for snowfields commonly encountered near the summit.
Headlamp w/ Spare Bulb AA or AAA battery powered (Petzl or Black Diamond).
Daypack This is your second most important piece of equipment. A small (30-40 liters), comfortable day-backpack for carrying personal items for each hiking day. We also recommend using your daypack as a carry-on bag during travel.
Guide Advice – We recommend you spend no less than 40 hours in your pack with 15-20 lbs of weight to ensure a proper fit. Similar to a pair of boots, your pack should be sized and professionally fitted to prevent back injury and improve comfort. If your retail specialist doesn’t know how to fit a pack correctly – walk away! If you have questions or concerns about how to correctly select a pack, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation. Better yet, join us on a conditioning trek and we’ll teach you how to carefully fit your own pack.
Hydration System (Bottles or Bladder) We recommend 3.0 liters of capacity using either bottles or a hydro-pack system with a hose. Note that hoses on bladder systems often freeze at altitude.
Guide Advice – When using a hydration system, we recommend using heavy duty pipe insulation to cover the entire length of the hose to prevent freezing. This is especially important on summit day when temperatures are the coldest. Pipe insulation can easily be found in most hardware stores.
Sleeping and Travel
Sleeping Bag Minimum 0 to -10 rated sleeping bag. Down 700 fill minimum is preferred (Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Moonstone, North Face). Be sure to also purchase a compression sack if your sleeping bag does not already have one.
Sleeping Bag Liner (optional) Although optional, many experienced trekkers prefer the comfort of a fleece or similar liner over the nylon liner typical to most sleeping bags.
Guide Advice – Fleece liners improve the cold weather rating of your sleeping bag by up to 12 degrees. As an added benefit, they also make great warm weather sleeping bags.
Self Inflating Pad (optional) One 3/4 or full length pad with a minimum 1/2 inch of loft for insulation and comfort.
Guide Advice – Make sure to include a valve system and patch repair kit in the event of a puncture of your pad. Note that clean sleeping mattresses are provided each night for your comfort.
Gear Duffel Bag A large-size duffel suitable for all of your personal gear. This bag will be your primary luggage for airline, vehicle and porter travel while on Kilimanjaro. Make sure this bag can be secured with locks (if you prefer) and can take a beating from airline baggage handlers and porters who carry it from camp to camp. Note that we require our porter support staff to sleeve your duffel bag with heavy-duty, plastic woven bags for weather protection while on Kilimanjaro.
Medical & Personal
Sunscreen SPF 30 or higher, non-oily.
Lipscreen SPF 30 or higher.
Toiletry BagToilet paper, small packages of wet wipes are always great for hygiene (1-2 a day), hand sanitizer, toothbrush and toothpaste. You’ll also need a shower kit while in Arusha (soap, shampoo, etc.). Bring travel sizes to keep your kit small.
Guide Advice – Although plenty of toilet paper will be provided in our toilet tents, we also recommend trekkers have a small personal supply for the trail.
Water Purification Tablets Only a small bottle is needed to purify water such as Potable Aqua brand iodine tablets. You will be given plenty of purified water during the trip, but one bottle of backup purification tablets is always a good idea for your travels. You should not drink untreated tap water anywhere in Tanzania and bottled water, in rare cases, might not be available.
Guide Advice – We recommend that you never use tap water in Tanzania to brush your teeth. Instead, please use bottled or treated water.
Large Trash Bags Two large, heavy-duty bags for waterproofing the inside of your duffel.
Guide Advice – The most effective way to create a barrier protecting your gear from rain is to sleeve the inside of your duffel bag with your belongings inside.
Earplugs Useful for sleeping in tents with noisy tent mates.
Personal First-Aid Kit and Medications Keep it simple and light. At a minimum, please include Moleskin, Molefoam, waterproof first-aid tape, athletic tape, duct tape, Band-Aids, personal prescriptions, topical antibiotic for scrapes and cuts, Cirprofloxin (Cipro) 500mg tablets for diarrhea and urinary tract infections, Zithromycin (Zithromax) 500 mg tablets for upper respiratory infections, Loperamide (Lomotil) or Immodium for diarrhea, Acetazolamide (Diamox) 125 or 250mg tables for altitude sickness, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) 200 mg tablets for altitude headaches, sprains, aches, etc. Excedrin for headaches, Acetaminophen (Tylenol) 325mg tablets, saline nasal spray for dry air conditions.
Guide Advice – S2Kilimanjaro requires that guides be professionally trained and certified in wilderness first response. In addition, guides have specialized training in assessment and management of health conditions common to high altitude. Your senior guide will be prepared to provide care in the event a health condition arises and, if necessary, employ medevac protocols for removal from the area for advanced medical care.
Nylon Stuff Sacks 3 or 4 for organizing your gear and clothes. Lighter colors are preferable for easy labeling.
Guide Advice – Buy bags with different colors to better organize and identify groups of equipment (e.g. red bag is for base layer clothing).
Clothes for Arusha and International Travel 2 or 3 changes of comfortable, simple travel clothes. Members participating in safaris may require additional clothing.
Passport Belt/Pouch We recommend that items such as passports, cash, jewelry and other valuables be kept in a secure belt or pouch underneath clothing for safety.
Small Padlocks Small locks are useful for locking duffel bag(s).
Small Duffel Bag This bag will be used primarily to store travel clothing and other personal items while you’re climbing Kilimanjaro. The bag will be left in secured storage until your return to Arusha.
Guide Advice – If you’re traveling with a friend, it’s best to share a duffel bag for storage.
Personal Items Books, journals, cameras, music players and other comfort items are great.
Trip Insurance We highly recommend travel insurance in the event of an unforeseen circumstance (e.g. family event, illness, etc.) prevents you from participating in a trip.
Guide Advice – Carefully review the terms of your insurance coverage to ensure you are compensated for your most expensive items (e.g. deposits, airfare and other payments) in the event of a cancellation. Also, some credit cards automatically provide trip insurance just by using their card.
Snacks If you have a preference for a particular gum, candy bard, power bar or snack food while on the trail, by all means bring it.
Guide Advice – Porters love North American snacks and munchies, so please feel welcome to bring a little extra to share.